Warhorse Pataca still has spring in his step
Nine-year-old warhorse Viva Pataca is a live hope of claiming an historic third win in tomorrow's QEII Cup, jockey Darren Beadman says.
Beadman is hoping to claim his second international Group One in a week after winning the BMW Champions Mile on Xtension last Monday and firmly believes trainer John Moore has the defending champion primed to run at his best.
He points to Viva Pataca's record of two QEII Cup wins and two placings from five starts in the race as the reason Macau tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun's runner still has the ability to nail a treble in an event he first won in 2007.
'It's probably Viva's last crack at a big one, although it wouldn't surprise me if he won again and we are here talking about him next year,' Beadman said with a laugh.
'He's been ultra-consistent in this race and I am a believer that horses, particularly ones that race in Hong Kong over a long period, get in a real routine over the season. Viva runs in the same races year in, year out, and as we know, he has peaked on QEII Cup day more than once.'
As Hong Kong's record prize-money winner with more than HK$81 million in the bank, Viva Pataca has little left to prove to anyone, but Beadman has unfinished business in the QEII Cup on the champion stayer, as the pair have finished in the minor placings on both occasions they have combined in the race.
'Viva's still got plenty of spring in his legs. He comes off the track bouncing at the moment and he's been quite willing in his work,' Beadman said. 'The poor mafoo copped the brunt of it, sporting a massive bruise from a bite from Viva. The old boy has some life in him yet.'
Jockey Mick Kinane landed Viva Pataca's first QEII Cup win in 2007 and Weichong Marwing saluted the judge last year - but now Beadman is determined to go one better and land the major prize on the evergreen horse that has been a constant throughout his time with Moore.
'Viva seemed to hit a bit of a flat spot after this race 12 months ago, but since his last run he's really picked up,' Beadman said. 'He has really dappled up too. He was looking a bit old and frail at one stage, but now he looks like he's really blossomed.
'When horses are feeling pain, they don't do well, their coats go dull and they're not happy. Viva's obviously pain free and he's flying.'
Viva Pataca has had continual problems with a quarter crack to his hoof - but Beadman says the injury is under control and is expecting a huge run, despite the awkward draw in gate nine. 'It's probably the trickiest start in Hong Kong, so it is important to draw a gate especially in a full field of 14. From barrier nine we will need a little bit of early luck.'
The Moore stable has four representatives, with Irian, Mighty High and Destined For Glory all trying to conquer the veteran stayer - but there will be no prising Beadman from the champ this year.